I recently got an action camera. An Activeon CX Gold Plus. I know GoPros are better, but this was way cheaper, and will give me a chance to see how much we use it, and if it will be worth investing in a more expensive camera later.
Since I’m a total noob, if you’ve got experience with GoPros or other action cameras, what advice do you have? Any tips and tricks?
So far, I’ve enjoyed trying out the camera. Some things I’ve learned:
I need a chest mount. My helmet bounces around my head a bit, causing the camera to record knocking sounds. Also, I keep running the camera into low branches. A youtuber suggested mounting the camera lower also gives a better impression of speed.
I need to figure out how to best preserve battery life. I ran wifi all night on the camera tonight, so I could control the camera with my phone, which was very convenient. However, I was only able to record 18 minutes of video before the battery was dead. I suspect wifi is a battery killer.
I need to learn what settings work best. I think I will find a loop that I can run through several times with a different setting each time (e.g. 1080P/60fps, 1080P/30fps, 720P/120fps, 720P/60fps, Digital Image Stabilization ON/Off). I think the Schnitzel Loop at Fight would be just the right length, Osprey might work well too, but it would be more climbing.
A few confirmation/comments:
The lower the camera the faster it feels when youre watching your footage. I would have liked to have gotten a chest mount, but didnt like the idea of something restricting breathing. Helmet mounts can be shaky and are prone to branches, but if you are partially roosted off the seat and coasting downhill they arent too bad. Handlebars are usually the shakiest option. 18 minutes is pretty bad. Most are designed to run for an hour or so. You should be getting at least 45 minutes. Wifi can be a strain on them for sure. I wouldnt do less than 1080p - when you are editing they can always be downgraded to a lesser quality, but you can never reverse it. If you have the option to change your angle of view - it will also help with potential shake. Wider is better when avoiding shake. If there is image stabilization I would certainly test to see if it helps. One thing I would also advise is getting a quality mirco sd card. They need to be fast write speeds, otherwise your footage can suffer from being choppy. My session will often get choppy or not record at all if it has too low of a write speed in it. And, Amazon is far cheaper of a place to get accessories when you go looking.
That wifi is killing your battery for sure, don’t use it if possible. 1080/30 is probably what I would run of those settings, with the stabilization on, but it may make things look all “wavy” if the program is low quality.
I’ve found the chest mount is the most stable for mountain biking, plus I like seeing the riders arms and bars in the shot, it gives something to frame the shot. Helmet mounts make me feel like I’m strapped to the front of a bus, especially if you’re not chasing another rider.
I use a cheapo camera handlebar mount for road/commuting to capture idiots license plates, it runs at 720/60 and does a fine job.
For the woods I use a GoPro Hero 5 Session chest mounted and run in in 2.7k/30. it is way nicer image quality, but if i upload the videos to the interwebs i usually down-sample to 720 to reduce the file size.
How long does the hero 5 session battery last on those settings?
I run protune settings and image stabilization as well but I’m not entirely sure on battery time, my limit is my 16G memory card gives me about 32 min of record time at 2.7k/30. I’ve never had the battery die on me but I use it as a session camera so I only turn it on when I know it will be a good section, usually just downhills, so its only running for a few minutes at a time and it powers off when you stop recording.
Cant speak for the 5, but the session 4 is good for about 50-60 minutes of record time on average the few times I had enough I wanted to record in a single outing. I tend to charge it after each time out just to play it safe. bent6543 - have you also found the new software for editing files is really dumbed down a lot? I hadnt used mine for a while, and had to re-download the editing software the other day and it has totally changed and stripped of options, or am I missing something?
Awesome! Thanks for the replays dudes! I’m not sure which one camera I want to go with yet, I like the price point of the hero 5 session though.
Go for gopro 4. Gp5 has a crappiest audio mic unless you wanna add external mics or put more holes in the body. New Battery could last 2-3hrs+ I usually bring a spare bat for longer rides.
shot in gp5 at sugarloaf.
Nice!! Have you heard anything about the GP Hero (2018)? I see it has replaceable batteries. That would be a great feature for longer rides.
From a quick look I didn’t see many GP Hero 4’s for sale on Amazon and what not… didn’t check kijjiji yet.
If I were looking at getting a new one, the hero 2018 would probably get my money. I am happy enough with the session, but there was a bigger price gap between the session and any full sized heros 2 years ago. Having swappable batteries would be nice. I think it would be near impossible to find a new hero4 for sale with 5’s and 6’s on the store shelves most places, but you might be able to score a used one. You dont have to use the phone app to use a session, but the built in screen on the hero would be nice to have. You would be limited to 1440p, but 4k files are bigger and take much longer to process. All that being said, if I took it home and the audio sucked, I would probably return it and give the session a try before entertaining the $400+ zone for a 5/6
I just use windows movie maker; don’t need/can’t be bothered with fancy features!
Before I bought the Activeon I did some research on GoPros. From what I understand the Hero HD 2018 is basically, a Hero 5 with a reduced feature set. The reviews said it was a great option for those getting new to GoPros, but experienced users looking for a full feature set would be disappointed.
I think the reduced audio quality in the newer GoPros relates to that they are waterproof without a case. Put a case on one of the old GoPros to make it waterproof, and the audio quality will suck too. The GoPro mount on my Activeon is on the case, not the camera, so there is no option to run the camera on a bike without a case, so the audio sucks. Unless… I can get an open frame mount, or a screw-in mount. One good thing about the Activeon is that it has a standard screw-in camera tripod adapter on the bottom. If I could find a screw-in mount, I could run the camera without a case, although it might be a bit risky for the camera. Another option is to drill holes in the case where the microphone inputs are. The case wouldn’t be waterproof anymore, but I don’t really have intentions of dunking the camera. I was thinking of buying the cheaper version of the camera (only $40 at walmart right now), just for an extra battery. It would also give me an extra case that I could keep in case of underwater video.
Here are a couple of clips to give you a sense of how the Activeon performs (comments welcomed):
This is from last Tuesday’s ride. 1080P/60fps, Stabilization ON, all other settings default. Sound is poor, except for the camera knocking on my helmet, and the noise of branches wacking on the camera.
The second clip is a downhill run at Kentville Bird Sanctuary. I think 1080/30. I don’t remember if Stabilization was on or not. Kind of looks like not.
Light for both videos wasn’t ideal. No shadows on the S&G clip, but we occasionally were riding into the setting sun. In the case of the Bird Sanctuary clip, it was a sunny day with shadows filtering through the trees.
This guy has some tips on shooting and processing for mountain biking with a GoPro. I haven’t tried his tips yet. He looks like he’s using a mount on his gimbal stabilizer that doesn’t require a case, so his audio is OK. He uses a Hero 4 because he says that the waterproofing on the 5 and 6 hurt the audio.
I have the Hero 2018, it’s the first action camera I bought after months of research, definitely the right choice for someone who might be budget conscious but wants a high quality camera. I’m getting about 2 hrs battery life right now on the 1080 setting.
That sells me on it buddy! Gonna find one in store tomorrow or order one. Be nice to have video footage of some of the stupid things i do
Bought the second camera, mainly for the extra battery, which came in handy on our last ride. Unfortunately, the case for the cheaper camera doesn’t fit on the Gold model, so I’ve hesitated to drill the case on the higher end camera.
Got a chest harness for my camera. I like the perspective of the chest mount, but adjusting it for the ideal angle is tricky. On the first ride I had it adjusted sitting upright in the saddle. When I stood up and leaned over the bars for rough terrain, jumps, drops, etc., the camera pointed down at the bike. On the next ride, I tried for the happy medium between the two. Of course, if you use a gyro gimbal, you can keep the camera pointed anywhere you want.
My thinking is that the chest harness is probably best for riding solo, while the helmet cam is best for following other people, depending of course on what you’re trying to shoot. When solo, seeing hands on the handlebar using the chest mount provides some interest, but you can track someone better down the trail with a helmet mount - with the chest mount they may ride out of the camera’s field of view unless you rotate your body to try to keep them in view.
I dusted off my GoPro Hero 3 recently and bought a gimbal to make it useful again. I shot this yesterday on Stout in the White Rock Recreation Area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyDMhZ3UH8U
Not the best quality, but the footage to steady. No stabilization on that camera. A little too much handlebar. After riding a little bit I made an adjustment to the gimbal and it made the footage unwatchable so it was all deleted.